Visualization and Analysis of Microstructure in Three-Dimensional Discrete Numerical Models
A computer program has been developed to allow for the virtual slicing of irregularly spaced and irregularly shaped three-dimensional image data. The program was used to virtually slice three-dimensional particle assemblies from discrete element method (DEM) simulations, allowing, for the first time, direct comparison to two-dimensional slices extracted from solidified physical specimens. Based on slices obtained from the numerical specimens, it is possible to compare quantitatively numerical microstructure directly to its physical analog, which should lead to greatly improved calibrations of granular mechanics models, and could facilitate the calibration of models across all scales of interest rather than solely at specimen boundaries.
Improved confidence in the ability of the DEM to realistically simulate the microstructure of granular assemblies (through improved multiscale calibration) should result in increased confidence in microstructural parameters measurable in numerical simulations but inaccessible in the laboratory. Algorithm development within the framework of the open-source Visualization Toolkit is described and performance of the algorithm is quantified for two platforms. Results from virtual slices of a test assembly with regular particle packing are verified against known analytical solutions. A slice of a more complex assembly comprised of nearly 40,000 spheres is quantified statistically and compared to an analogous slice from a physical specimen of uniform sand.
Keywords: Imaging techniques, Microstructures, Discrete elements, Digital techniques, Three-dimensional models